I recently attended the Mayhem Tour in Virginia Beach, Va. and while there were many bands playing that night I was particularly impressed by Shadows Fall’s performance. It was with great pleasure when a few days later I was able to catch up with drummer Jason Bittner by phone to discuss the tour and how the band is dealing with the stifling heat. The show on this particular night was quite incredible and the band was in top form as they pounded the nearly sold out crowd with some serious molten metal. Here is how the conversation went.
Hey Jason how are you today?
Jason: I am doing well, how are you doing?
Where are you guys at today?
Jason: We are in Detroit, Michigan.
Is it as hot there as it is in the rest of the country?
Jason: It is actually pretty reasonable today compared to the last few weeks of brutal heat we have been dealing with.
How has the tour been going so far?
Jason: It has been going great. There have been lots of people coming out, the shows have been great and it has been lots of fun.
Speaking of the heat, how have you guys been dealing with it?
Jason: We have been sweating our asses off from the moment we get off of the bus in the morning. We try to stay hydrated and out of the sun as much as possible.
It is a pretty long day when you are out in the heat isn’t it?
Jason: Yeah it makes for a real long day.
You guys have been at this for 15 years now. Did you ever imagine you would be releasing records this far along?
Jason: Well I don’t know. I never really think about it that way. We play music because we love to play music. We are just lucky that we have been doing this creatively as a band in this collective unit for almost a decade now. The longer that we get to do this and still pay our bills is a luxury.
Do you find the rigors of touring taking more of a toll on you as you get older?
Jason: Oh yeah, it never gets easy.
Is it difficult to get rolling and back into the swing of things when you have been off for a while?
Jason: Well it depends. If we are coming back from taking an extended break and we haven’t been playing then yeah we have to get the rust off a little. But 9 times out of 10 our breaks are not that long and we all have other bands so we are constantly playing. So usually after a few days of being out there we are back into it.
What do you guys have planned after the Mayhem Festival ends?
Jason: Well we have gotten an offer to go do a festival over in China at the end of October and then possibly a headlining run after that.
Have you guys ever been over to China or will this be the first time?
Jason: It will be the first time in China for us.
That will be pretty cool… metal in China would be great.
Jason: Yes it would be.
Any new material in the works?
Jason: No, it is pretty hard to write on the road, especially when we are our own crew. There is pretty much no free time in the day to be honest with you.
You guys are your own crew? That must be rough?
Jason: Yes it is.
How has the economic slump been affecting you this time out? Do you notice a difference from other years?
Jason: Yeah like I said we are our own crew. The economy is fucking killing the music business, it is killing everything unfortunately, but it is putting a serious damper on the music business. There are a lot of us out here that are teching ourselves and sharing buses and bringing it back to when we were starting out. It feels like we are moving backwards but it is just that the economy has dictated what goes on with us. The show guarantees are not as much as they used to be. You have to take the good with the bad and if you want to stay viable you have to do what you need to do.
There have been a lot of festivals and package deals with many bands on the same bill. That packs people in right?
Jason: Oh yeah the crowds have been amazing but you have to remember why. Because you are paying spending $40.00 on a ticket to see twelve good bands as opposed to a $25.00 ticket for a three or four band bill. Of course you are going to get way more people to go because there is more bang for your buck. But unfortunately when there are that many bands on a tour there is only so much money to go around and trust me… Korn is taking the majority of that.
Any closing words at all?
Jason: I just want to thank all of the fans for being there for us because without them we would not be here.
We thoroughly enjoyed the show the other night here in Virginia Beach.
Jason: Thanks a lot.
Thanks for your time. Good luck with the rest of the tour.
Jason: Thanks a lot man. [ END ]